When a former editor of a leading newsmagazine writes a novel, one expects he’ll go to David Godwin, Penguin, other major publishing houses (in that order), unless, of course, he’s Arundhati Roy, in which case he’d open his own publishing outfit. But Inderjit Badhwar’s Sniffing Papa is published by newcomer Tara Press, an imprint of well-known Delhi bookshop owners Bahri & Sons. Badhwar’s unusual choice of publisher mystified the guests who assembled in the sunny lawns of Congressman Kamal Nath’s bungalow on Tughlak Road for an elegant book lunch, er, launch, with a reading by Naseeruddin Shah. But far from clearing the mystery, Badhwar further confused things by declaring that one of the first persons he sent the manuscript to was M. Prabha, the author of a vicious diatribe against the IWE two years ago called The Waffle of the Toffs, in which the phenomenon was dismissed as a name fame game of the cultural elite. M. Prabha apparently hailed Badhwar’s book as a punch in the face of IWE. How and why, she didn’t say.
By a stroke of luck, The Waffle of the Toffs was delivered to Bibliofile the very afternoon by a small, bald Professor Sharma from California. Who is M. Prabha? Does she exist? Where does she live? Sharma only said that after teaching Australian poetry at JNU, Prabha wrote this "sociocultural critique", refused all invitations for lectures and book discussions and disappeared into a nameless American university.